08 December 2008

Featured Poet: Steven D. Schroeder

Late Night Driver at Lightning Lizard Pizza

Dan ducks out at nine, his shaky, smoky

Econoline panel truck shorthand for Hollywood
pedophiles, serial killers, and terrorists.

A large pepperoni delivered to the First Amendment
porno bookstore counter, but the transaction lacks
a bow chicka wow wow soundtracked encounter

with a bored and horny housewife who can’t pay—
with money, anyway. Even in darkness
with double doors open, the conveyor oven ripples

superheated air everywhere but the walk-in
cooler of pseudosalad lettuce and ranch packets,
Coke cans and precooked Buffalo chicken wads.

(Who would swallow a thing called Lizard Wings?)
Orders for the Comm Corr work release motel,
ever a low-tip zone, quickly slip to zero

after curfew. Perhaps it’s pizzeria hazing
that drivers also wash the dishes in the half hour
silences between phone rings, stuck dough scrubbed

from tubs, hands chapped and crackling—in his office,
the owner scratch scratches a batch of fresh red numbers
using his own blood. Route home a memorized

maze of houses and apartments, the alternator
off-and-on-again fogs with fatigue, its dying
spot a streetlit stop at the right address.

Advice on the Psych Ward

Oh yes, you’re not supposed to be here. If you tell a doctor so, he or she will be legally free to free you. Be sure to shriek it by the Marquess of Queensberry rules, boxing air and baring underwear on your fists.

A doctor is a door you must unbolt. A doctor will bore through your eyelids with four interrogation lamps to ask how you sleep. Say With a bonnie Scottish dirk under my pillow, and he or she will switch your mattress board with a litter box of kittens.


Hand the nurse a can of contraband, Diet Dr. Pepper, for extra gray and Prozac ground into your gruel. Savor the leftovers when you wake with your arms crossed like a lockbox vampire, paler than the hovering fluorescent tubes.

You can trade scissors to that patient for a painting of scissors. That patient you should avoid. That one you can draw on in crayon while the television hums behind obsidian, the idiot doctor doctors oblivious.

Doctor the scabbed flesh on your forearms with bed sheets not fitted for your hidden ladder. Let the kittens lick your wrists. Wait. Then make the ceiling dinge flake with the sudden pain of your escape.

Who Sketches the Sketchers

Doodles of scratches of scribbles of men

with sideways beards pressed down so hard
the paper rips, of women whose necks
are stalks on thickly trunks, fingertips
sharp as pencils, every body
wobbly and daubed with eraser droppings,
when one of the figures, could be he
or she in those block clothes, unsticks
from its backdrop, the flatline horizon,
clouds as angelic heliports, triangular
houses or mountains or flames afloat
in the basalt sea of a lunar crater,
prestidigitates on the tablet
a pen out of its rib, never lifting
nib from page, and leaves its own image
of human: at least eleven dimensions,
asymptote arms and Möbius heart,
hands drawing hands drawing together
so we can drive them aside to add
a shadow miming a sucker punch,
police lights and siren, always amok,
a scar that puckers a pegleg’s length,
and knives peeking from under the knuckles.

Albuquerque Low

The out-of-state delivery truck up the Front Range

to dump its freight, its freezer crates of wet
deadweight spattering the Springs. Parking lot ruts
wheelspin into bottomless crevasses traversed
crosswise in icy reverse. Cataracts crust
the windshield at each skateblade wiper swipe.

Antilock brakes firing hard as neurons,
these SUVs are heading for a wreck
or already had one, skidding sidelong
into oblivion. Downfall drowns
Nevada Avenue, swallows ground
and builds a wholly whitewalled town.
Couldn’t hold a job salting walkways
for Eskimos with only four more

shopping days till Christmas.
Cold hands, blue heart, they say
this winter of bitter drifts
off the offramp, engine block
not hot enough to cook on.
No drive, no crash, no option
to wake from hibernation
in April, numb from months
of the motor shutting down.
Under the seat is a gun.

Steven D. Schroeder's first full-length book of poems, Torched Verse Ends, is forthcoming from BlazeVOX in Spring 2009. His poetry is recently available or forthcoming from Verse, Beloit Poetry Journal, Barrow Street, Court Green, and Verse Daily. He edits the online poetry journal Anti- and works as a Certified Professional Résumé Writer.

© 2008 Steven D. Schroeder

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